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Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days for both hotels and restaurateurs, and one that provides a fantastic opportunity to expand your reach, make your venue known to new local customers, and gain increased online exposure through acquiring positive online reviews.

Last year, Zagat conducted a survey to capture consumer behaviors in association with this celebration. Among the highlights: 42 percent of those surveyed indicated planned to dine out, and 43 percent planned to try a new venue. (You can see the full survey here.)

With almost half of those going out to eat saying that they are willing to be a little adventurous in giving new places a chance, you can’t miss the opportunity to engage new patrons and win their hearts and palates.

Let’s take a look at a few tried and true moves that can help your venue leave a fantastic and review-worthy first impression.

Manage and Update Your Listing on Popular Review Sites

With so many diners looking forward to trying a new dining venue, the pre-Valentine’s season is an excellent time to make sure you are well-represented on major review sites.

Take the time to tackle your profiles, update your photos and menus, and respond to both positive and negative reviews in a manner that helps build shopper confidence. Your goal is to put your best foot forward and persuade as many diners as possible to give your venue a try. Keep in mind that during Valentine’s and other holidays, diners are willing to spend extra money dining out, making it a great opportunity for high-tier venues to capture a portion of the market.

#DinersChoice: Restaurant Reviews and Reservations Site OpenTable Ranks the Most Romantic Restaurants in America

Offer and Advertise a Special Menu Using OpenTable

In some cities, Valentine’s Day can be a very busy evening, making the process of securing an available table during prime hours a challenge for those trying to impress their significant other. Because OpenTable has one of the most effective and seamless restaurant reservations platforms, it makes it an ideal avenue for advertising and boosting your venue (Check out: “5 Ways OpenTable Can Help Your Restaurant”). If you are planning to allocate marketing dollars for Valentine’s Day, then this is a great way to spend them.

Increase Your Cover Capacity by Creating a To-Go Option for Two

If your venue is small and you are quite certain you will be 100 percent booked, then be creative and explore the option of offering a romantic to-go package for two or four (for double dates and small families). By making this accommodation, you will be able to cater to individuals with different needs and impress them by providing a service that is perceived as going the extra mile for the customer.

Make and pack beautiful meals that will impress and delight, and consider including a little extra not listed in the initial offering. Add a menu for future reference to their package, and explore the potential of also including a coupon for a future purchase. By taking the to-go approach, you can more than double your revenue potential and boost the diversity of your offering.

Partner with a Local Hotel to Offer Night-Out Romance Packages

For many hotels nationwide, February is still considered low season. Why not partner with one and offer packages that invite guests to dine and stay? By packaging the experience, both the hotel and restaurant stand a better chance of securing a positive review that has an extended narrative of the customer experience in light of their special occasion.

By leveraging both services, you should be able to take advantage of tools such as Review Express by TripAdvisor as a means of securing additional positive reviews. When designing your packaged deal, focus on providing your customers a value-driven offer, and consider using it to reach out to your most loyal patrons as a means to thank them for their ongoing loyalty, with the idea in mind that loyal customers are generally more inclined to be brand promoters.

Offer Special Room Service Catered by Your Best In-House Restaurant

Many hotels are home to great restaurants that often go underutilized by local patrons. If your lodging venue is fortunate enough to be home to a great chef, then why not use the opportunity to introduce the locals to your culinary repertoire by offering fare as part of the room service provided during Valentine’s night, when many locals will be spending the night at your hotel? Upgrading the room service experience is a sure way to garner five-star reviews. Give it a try; you won’t regret it. 

Focus on the Little Extras

If you have been managing your reviews and online reputation for a while, then you probably know that everyone prefers long, detailed, narrative reviews. This holds true for positive and negative reviews. When preparing your hotel or restaurant for special occasion promos and packages, invest time and resources in delivering unique and memorable experiences that focus on the extras. Give your patrons something to talk about.

Consider including surprise amenities, and do what it takes to personalize the experience of your guests. Consider having the parties in charge of booking ask if there is a plan for marriage proposals, and do what you can to support your customer in making the proposal special. There is no better way to earn a great review than by partaking in one of the most important moments in someone’s life. 

Be Generous When Things Go Wrong

Special occasions can be a busy time, and something can always go wrong. It is well-known that most negative reviews are rooted in a venue’s inability or unwillingness to make things right quickly, once escalated. Put processes in place that empower everyone in your business to make things right expediently and in a manner that leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth of each of your customers. How you recover matters when it comes to your online reputation.

Kevin Kent

Kevin is the Director of Finance and Operations at ReviewTrackers. Every day he finds creative ways to solve business owners' problems and identifies key issues to help them achieve top results.

Discussion

  1. E Langdon

    I’m always won over by businesses that are quick to compensate you for being inconvenienced. Often times I walk away remembering that I got a discount and forgetting all about whatever went wrong.

    Reply
  2. Julia

    Interesting ideas. I was working in a cafe and February was always terrible. My boss never prepared anything special for Valentine’s day, to draw some customers.

    Reply
  3. sasha_482

    Interesting suggestions, especially the one about partnering with hotels – would’ve never thought of that.Don’t you thing that all the things you’ve mentioned can be used not just for Valentine’s day but for many other special occasions as well?

    Reply
  4. moolahmachine

    @sasha_482 – Yes, definitely: March 8th and New Year’s, just some of them. I worked at a restaurant that actually went extra three miles for these occasions. We were packed even on nights that are not so special. Not only that, but, even though I don’t work there anymore, I go there to eat!

    Reply

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